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Assistant Coach Update: UCLA’s Public Soap Opera Gets Embarrassing

Rick Neuheisel: "I'm deliberating because I haven't put the right pieces together."
Rick Neuheisel: "I'm deliberating because I haven't put the right pieces together."

Following Ryan's excellent but downbeat post on Pauley renovation this will not make anyone here feel any better.

The football drama is still unfolding in Westwood and it has now blown up into a comically embarrassing soap opera. Here is what we know. Chris Foster from the Los Angeles Time finally caught up with Tracy Pierson from Bruin Report Online about Mike Johnson and UCLA "reaching an agreement":

Mike Johnson has reached an agreement in principle to become an assistant coach at UCLA, according to a person inside the program who was not at liberty to speak on the matter.

Johnson, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers, could be in place by the end of the week. His duties have yet to be defined, but with Norm Chow's status unclear, he could take over the offensive coordinator spot.

We congratulate Mr. Foster for finding "news" that Pierson shared with rest of the world last week.  Jon Gold posted some more information on the Daily News blog:

UCLA officials say that a hire has still not been made, but Johnson was on UCLA's campus on Tuesday and took a tour of the weight room, where he met several players who said their interaction with Johnson was brief. Chow, who reportedly has had talks with Utah to become its offensive coordinator, remains on the UCLA staff and continues to recruit for head coach Rick Neuheisel.

Johnson will most likely serve as an offensive coordinator and wide receiver's coach. Where Mr. Foster does have a point is the "unclear" status of Norm Chow. 

For some reason Rick Neuheisel thought it would be a good idea to sit down with TJ Simers and give him some insight on the Chow situation:

"Norm is still on our staff," Neuheisel said. "I'm still deliberating as to how we are going to reorganize ourselves offensively so as to create a more potent offense."

As long as it takes Neuheisel to deliberate, it's a good thing he's not calling the plays or the Bruins would be constantly called for delaying the game.

"You know what you're going to do. Are you deliberating because you don't know how you're going to get the money to pay him off?" I said.

Neuheisel replied, "I'm deliberating because I haven't put the right pieces together."

"Do you want Norm Chow here?"

"I do want Norm Chow here," Neuheisel said. "But I'm just not sure under what capacity. And I understand that Norm, given his great credentials, it may or may not be to his liking if it's not in the current capacity."

Does any of that make sense to any of you? Not to us either. What we do not understand is why Rick Neuheisel thought it would be good idea for him to share his thoughts with Simers. This is not a situation where Simers just cornered Neuheisel. It seemed that Neuheisel sought Simers out to give him an "update" on the coaching search.  One would think that he would know better given the track record of Simers, which have been extensively blogged and discussed here and other places among UCLA fans.

At this point Norm Chow needs to move on.  Whatever it was, his time at UCLA did not work out for either him or the Bruins. The situation is not going to improve he remains here because there will still be way too many cooks in this kitchen.   Both Neuheisel  and Chow are play callers. For whatever reason they have not gelled and it makes sense for both of them to part ways. What is happening now in Westwood is eerily similar to what transpired with Chow at USC with Pete Carroll (minus the on field success and off field scandals).  He has never gotten along and felt comfortable at any place following his time at BYU. He needs to go.

But what motivated Neuheisel to talk to Simers? Did he share his thoughts with Simers to generate public pressure on Dan Guerrero to cough up more money to buy out Chow and get him a new DC (someone like a Teryl Austin or Randy Shannon)? Whatever his motivation might be, this does not paint Neuheisel in positive light. It makes him look weak and it makes Dan Guerrero look even weaker.

We think Dan Guerrero should be helping Rick Neuheisel to put together the staff he wants (so that only he can be held responsible for UCLA's on field performance next season) by making sure he has sufficient resources to make quality hires. In return Neuheisel should not be talking about this search in a matter which makes Morgan Center look like keystone cops. The whole spectacle is embarrassing.